Memorial Day 2005

My Memorial Day in a nutshell: drive to Michigan, 2½ mile parade, lunch, 3½ hour rehearsal, dinner, performance for returned Marines, drive home. Total time away from home: approximately 14 hours. Total driving time: approximately four hours.

Overall impression of the day: productive.

My day started at 7:20am or so. Got up, got dressed in my warm-weather parade gear (blue LSM t-shirt and khaki shorts), got my shit together and got on the road by 7:45am. Arrived at the Novi parade site with time to spare, for a change.

I ended up bringing my digital camera, since it had been suggested that we needed some more photos for the web page. I almost forgot and left it in the car, but I thought of it before we started warming up and fetched it. The LSM Public Relations person (Barb, that is—her husband, Russ, is my carpool ride to rehearsals) was nice enough to agree to take some pictures with my camera, which was cool. It ended up being a good thing, too, because her camera went on the fritz or something.

The parade actually moved a lot faster than last year’s Novi parade. Memorable moments of the parade include:

  • The lead baritone arriving with a sprained wrist, unable to march the parade, leading to a case of musical… um, musical instruments;
  • The Visual Caption Head / Lead Mellophone coming up with amusing hand motions to go along with the percussion cadence;
  • Stopping in front of the retirement/nursing home and turning to play directly to the senior citizens watching the parade;
  • Kemo (one of the older trumpet players) saying during the parade, “Now, I’ve got my wife by the judges’ stand with a video camera, and if we go by on taps [i.e. not playing a song or cadence], I’m gonna be pissed.”
  • Carpooling back to the start of the parade in Russ’s minivan: ten adults, one teenager, one snare drum and one bass drum.

After the parade, I followed some members of the brass line to a local Burger King for lunch. Yay for the 99¢ Value Menu: I got a side salad and a five-piece chicken tenders with a water, and paid less than three bucks. Word.

Afterward, I followed the Michiganders to our rehearsal site in Dearborn, about a half hour away from the parade site in Novi. I had one hairy exit (“Let me over! Let me over! Okay, lady, fuck you—here I come!”) but didn’t get lost or anything. In fact, of the three cars in our little caravan, I was the only one who had the printout showing where the corps was rehearsing—so, go me, I suppose.

Rehearsal at Henry Ford Community College. Got to the designated rehearsal area and attempted to find an open building with a potty, to no avail. Changed into my tank top in the parking lot (to hell with modesty; this is drum corps), gathered my stuff, and trudged out to the field. Upon arrival at the field, I learned where the open potty was, so off I went—only to find that the Men’s was open, but not the Women’s. Yay for peeing in the Men’s room, I guess? *shrug*

Rehearsal was mainly learning and reviewing drill, with a quick run-through of our evening’s performance repertoire at the end. We got all the way through learning the drill for the show, which was trés cool. Now we (theoretically) could march the entire show, beginning to end. Could we play it at the same time? That depends on how much we have memorized…

It was decided that, to save time, we would all buy a light dinner at a local supermarket on the way to the evening’s gig. So, I followed someone out of the parking lot at HFCC and made it to the market without getting lost. 🙂 Got a turkey wrap, a peach, and some of that No Carb green tea. Good stuff. Followed the massive LSM caravan to the Dearborn Inn Marriott, where we all ate dinner drumcorps-style, sitting on the grass medians in the parking lot.

After dinner, we all got our uniforms and changed inside the Marriott (OK, some people changed in the parking lot), then we came back out and got our equipment—horns, music stands, and music. (The drummers got their drums, of course, and no music or stands, because they rock.) Spent some time warming up on the quite plushy and pleasantly squishy-springy lawn. Finally, the time came, and we headed over to the performance area, in step, single-file.

Now, about this performance: we were told that we would be performing for Marines and their families from a five-state area: Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, I believe. These Marines fought in Iraq, in the battle of Fallujah, and were being honored by a local sponsor. This sponsor had specifically wanted a drum & bugle corps to perform to honor these gentlemen, and had contacted us. We were, in turn, honored to be asked.

Keeping this in mind, how many Marines would you expect? A dozen? Two dozen? An entire battalion?


Or, to be specific, three Marines and one Navyman. (What is the proper terminology for a member of the Navy, anyway? Sailor?)

Of course, we didn’t perform any less for the smaller audience. Four servicemembers deserve no less honor than forty, no matter what my personal opinion of the War in Iraq. Our performance went well, with very few errors and no major train wrecks, which is always good.

Before the performance, I had given my digital camera to Ramona, the LSM Secretary, and shown her how to use it. For a self-proclaimed novice (“Is your camera Mona-friendly?”), she got some great images in amongst the average ones. Honestly, with that camera, I don’t know that I could have done much better.

After the performance, we were invited to join the Marines and their guests for dessert, but most of us declined in favor of going home. I took my time going back into the Marriott to change back into my “civvies” for the drive home. I was tired, and sore, and slightly sunburnt. Once I got back to the car, I called Aaron on our cell, and told him I’d be home in about an hour fifteen.

The drive home was pretty uneventful, except for the beginning, where I left my black marching shoes on top of the Kia. *smirk* I wouldn’t have even thought of them if I hadn’t been driving east, with the sunset casting a shadow of the car onto the road in front of me. So, yeah. I stopped the car in the right-hand lane of the unbusy street I was on, put the hazards on, and rescued both of my shoes before they fell off the roof. 🙂

Finally, finally, I got home around 9:30pm or so. Papers and maps and directions and shoes were strewn all over the car, and Aaron came out and got my horn and my uniform for me while I was collecting all the other crap. He made some sausages for dinner, I collapsed on the couch, and he tucked me into bed around 11pm.

And that was my Memorial Day.

I’m glad I took today as a vacation day.